Around 4 am, Binu Babu, manager of Vini’s Farm, an island 140 km away from Kochi, received a call. Their Swedish guest Vincent Borg had an unusual request: he wanted to go kayaking. “Sure sir,” said a complaisant Babu. So, in the pitch darkness, lit up by a torch, Borg got onto a kayak. He went rowing till the dawn broke on the eastern horizon. The island farm’s owner Aram Paul Chittilappilly smiles as he recalls the incident. “I have told the staff to say ‘no’ to nothing,” he says.
Vini’s Farm—a four-acre island near the popular Munroe Island, at the confluence of the Kallada River and Ashtamudi Lake—has two luxury rooms set in a wooden cottage. It offers a grand view of the backwaters and hillocks at a distance. “Either two couples or a family can stay at a time,” says Paul. “The entire island is left to themselves.” For privacy, a natural boundary of bushes and mangroves is maintained, with a small gate on one side. The staff can be summoned through a walkie-talkie.
The idea is to reconnect with and recharge in nature. Fittingly, there are no televisions or the Internet. A cute message on a wall reads: ‘Sorry, no Wi-Fi. Talk to each other and enjoy nature’. Dishes from the local cuisine, made with organic vegetables, is served. Guests can go kayaking, take a boat ride at sunset or do a village tour. “Guests can also go fishing, catch fresh pearl spots (karimeen) and get it cooked as per their preference,” says Paul.
In fact, it was the savoury pearl spots that enticed Chittilappilly about the island. A few years ago, he stopped by the island during a boat ride. Its owner Sebastian served him a rice meal with pearl spots. “It was exquisite,” says Paul. The tantalising sensation lingered long after he left, which was why he returned a year later. The island was up for sale and Paul bought it. He gifted it to wife Vinita for her birthday last March.
“Their rooms are quite stunning, the food is awesome too. Their home-grown passion fruit juice is a must-try,” says Crystal, who visited Vini’s Farm with husband Vivek Zachariah, a pilot in Chennai.